Bayern Munich Preview: A Sense Of Adventure Or Business As Usual?

PSG’s thrashing of Barcelona awoke hope in some people; ‘if PSG can win like that, why can’t we?’. Others wondered why we never played that well against the Catalans. Me? Why couldn’t Barca have played that badly against us…

Which is where we are tonight. Out of nowhere, we’ve got to find the best performance of a lifetime to win in Munich. But winning isn’t the be-all and end-all; tonight, at the final whistle, I’ll be happy if we’re still in the tie. And I don’t mean figuratively or fulfilling our contractual obligation for the home match, I mean genuinely in with a chance of going through to the last eight.

I’m not holding my breath. I’m not, and I really mean that; it’s bad for your health. As are some of our recent performances, as well as the results. Instead of looking at the 1 – 5 defeat last season, look at how we’ve played in big away games this season. Don’t try to invoke the spirit of 2 – 0 wins and 1 – 1 draws without referring back to the 1 – 3 defeat in 2005, when arguably a better team was lucky to leave Munich with just three goals conceded. The point is, the past gives us a no better clue which Arsenal will turn up tonight, than the present.

Contrary to the headlines, it wasn’t much of a decision; Wenger always planned to play the Colombian tonight. Some claim that Petr Cech is more reliable than Ospina; I’d say his recent performances put that theory to the test. The former Czech Republic international has been far from his best this season while Ospina’s form has been far better than previous years at the club.

That’s the kiss of death, isn’t it…

Cech Is Out, Anyone Else?

A genuine selection issue is whether Mesut Özil plays. Well, it might be in our minds but I can’t envisage a situation where the German will be left out for tonight’s game, certainly not by Arsène, anyway.

Wenger is well aware of the criticism of the midfielder but underlined his backing for the £42m man,

“I have no doubt that we play in Germany and Özil is highly focused to have a good performance.”

Özil’s inclusion draws a red line through the hopes of setting the team up to provide more midfield support to the defence. It also brings into question Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s involvement tonight.

Unless Arsène decides that Francis Coquelin’s rough and tumble style isn’t suited to this stage, he will form the central pairing with Granit Xhaka. It’s a shame; Ox has been the one bright spark in the side since moving to the centre and it seems we are to lose that.

He may play on the right but unless Wenger is planning on using Welbeck on the left, we’re desperately short of goal-threat without Walcott in the side. Welbeck on the right is a decision designed to keep Alex Iwobi in the starting line-up which, as we saw at Stamford Bridge, gives us a luxury we can ill-afford in big matches. It’s Iwobi or Özil, not both in these games.

At home, yes, both, no hesitation beyond immediate concerns of form. Away? No.

That’s where we have to be honest as well. PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea; the four biggest games away from home and four terrible performances. Surely Arsène looks at that quartet and sees a pattern? Two barely deserved draws and two defeats, with only one disappointing outcome. The rest we half-expected.

Will anything change at Bayern tonight?

That’s the question and where the eternal hope of a supporter kicks in. Beforehand, you’ll be as calculated as ever but the closer to kick-off we get, the hazier the logic becomes. When you see the players on the pitch, all logic goes out of the window; the heart rules the head completely until, or if, we see the outcome as beyond argument.

Just stay in the tie, lads; is that too much to ask?

The line-up I would field tonight is not the one you’ll see:

Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elneny; Walcott, Alexis, Welbeck

Arsène won’t make big changes for the match tonight, though and I suspect his line-up will be:

Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi; Alexis

Maybe he will start Welbeck but I don’t think so. If he does, it’s a statement of counter-attacking intent. A couple of changes is just business as usual.

And we can’t afford that. We haven’t played well away from home – with our ‘usual XI’ – since West Ham. Southampton, outstanding win, but with the ‘reserves’.

Tonight, we’ve got to invoke that spirit. It’s a shame that Lucas has a hamstring issue otherwise, there’d be an inclination to use him on the right instead of Theo. The Spaniard is genuinely unlucky not to feature more often, especially when you consider some of our recent performances, but not tonight Josephine.

In the lead up to the match, there’s a post from Phil at Angry of Islington which is well worth a read. Click here.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

‘til Tomorrow.

382 thoughts on “Bayern Munich Preview: A Sense Of Adventure Or Business As Usual?

  1. wilberforce:
    I tell you what boys this site has been so good for me. You have all kept me going through this horrible divorce. Great blogging from the top man Yogi and everyone has kept me entertained with some great opinions and debates. This has been great therapy! !

    Well at least one (sort of a) and most likely the only one positive comment on this really bad game day! All the best and better for you in the future. Football is just a game, life is serious. But the footie is an excellent distraction and a let-out for emotions.

  2. I’m not having it that our players are to blame. No way. It’s the set up. They are not being prepared properly.

  3. Arsene:

    “Unlucky on the second goal”

    “The second goal was the most important”

    “We were unlucky (but they were better than us)”

    “I do not look for excuses”

    “We were solid defensively” (WTF!!!)

    “It’s disappointing”

    Looks like he’s had enough but I expect that a couple of wins and everything will be back to normal.

  4. Finnish you have to laugh some times. Just seen the Wenger interview and it was uncomfortable to see him so upset but he is the main problem and he needs to step down. He is one stubborn man but surely he must now realise that his time is up.

  5. Alex

    That just shows how misleading the stat “tackles” is. I think Its utterly and completely useless. Going to ground can be a good thing on occasion but its not an indication of a solid defender. You always want to stay on your feet whenever possible and a player who goes to ground frequently is often looking for the easiest thing to do when he can’t stay with the man he is trying to defend against.

  6. At the start I think I heard the commentators saying that Wenger is only beaten by Ancelotti and Fergie on the number of CL matches he has managed. So that would mean that he has been in charge of more CL games and not won it than any other manager.

  7. I did not see the game but is it correct to say that the turning point was koscielny’s injury?
    It looks like they scored twice in quick succession straight after that and the defence did not have time to recover and regroup.

  8. God that interview, he looked awful, almost in tears poor chap. I’d say he knows that was his last chance of winning the CL with Arsenal. Players ought to be utterly ashamed of themselves. They’d better put a shift in for him until the end of the season. They have disgraced the club again.

  9. Dukey,

    “the wengerites know Wenger is to blame but we all know what they are going to do, they are going to blame the players for this. They are never going to condemn him.”

    Even on a really bad day like this, polarised opinions are not the only way to analyse. Everyone involved is involved, glory or humiliation. It’s never the manager or the players; they are an entity.

    I don’t think it’s a failure to lose to Bayern when the odds were 7/1. The dismal second half capitulation… I’d rather sleep over it first. A fortnight, perhaps.

  10. JJgsol

    The Turning Point is Wenger, Wenger happened to the team.

    The man is done, he has nothing else to offer except the same old bullshit that doesn’t fly any longer.

    Football has passed him by many times and many seasons ago….

  11. CorpFinG,

    It won’t happen. He doesn’t do resigning. The best we can hope is that he won’t sign a new contract. Hopefully he lets the club know early enough that they can sort out the succession. A new manager has to be in place for the start of the summer to plan for next season.

  12. After all the battles between the wobs and the akbs….. Tonight the war is over. Everything else from now on is post war era. The hard-core wengerites will keep up the resistance. But it’s a lost cause. But the resistance could stretch out the depression and drawn out end for a little whole yet. Before the inevitable needs to happen.

  13. “I don’t think it’s a failure to lose to Bayern when the odds were 7/1.”

    and I think these odds are based on past results, and based on the fact that nothing has changed since the last time Bayern beat us 5/1.

  14. Dukey:
    After all the battles between the wobs and the akbs….. Tonight the war is over. Everything else from now on is post war era.The hard-core wengerites will keep up the resistance. But it’s a lost cause.But the resistance could stretch out the depression and drawn out end for a little whole yet.Before the inevitable needs to happen.

    That sounds pretty Trumpian…

  15. Didn’t Gazidis say that we would be able to compete against teams such as Bayern when we moved to the new ground? Still being humiliated by them on a regular basis.

  16. Welcome to the red pill community. Took some of you long enough.

    Oh well, repetitio mater studiorum est: repetition is the mother of all learning.

  17. I was watching it with a friend of mine who doesn’t watch futbol or even know who Arsenal are (they brought a mellowing agent for me) and during the first half before we scored said, “Your team looks so uncomfortable defensively and why aren’t they attacking. The players obviously are an attacking team and I’m not sure why the coach wants them to play so defensively, is he scared to lose?”

  18. Wavey,

    Unfortunately, it’s so.

    There is no willpower to follow this club anymore. We lost our way when we left Highbury when we got spinned on their bullshit about the new stadium (solely built for stuffing pockets).
    We’ve been paying for that sin ever since.

    This is not the club I fell in love with. This is a shameless organization occupied with stealing our money. Full stop!

    Wenger and all the rest of the conmen – leave before the damage to this club becomes irreparable!

  19. G4E,

    I only looked at the odds that were on offer 30 mins before kick-off, so I don’t know how they count them. Stats and probabilities, cruel maths.

  20. Somewhere in another dimension Arsenal has sacked this bullshit artist, appointed Bould for the rest of the season and is turning itself over to get Simeone for the next season.

  21. FinnishHit

    Its ok to admit that you just like Arsene and you think he has earned the right to stay as long as he wants and you will be satisfied with whatever results we get as long as he is the manager. Its very hard to have much credibility if you are trying to argue that keeping him for the next couple years is the best thing for the team. To each fan his own.

  22. Now lose the return leg 4 nil, 9-1 on aggregate, so that this cunt finally faces the music and has NO way of extending his contract.

  23. C,

    C:
    I was watching it with a friend of mine who doesn’t watch futbol or even know who Arsenal are (they brought a mellowing agent for me) and during the first half before we scored said, “Your team looks so uncomfortable defensively and why aren’t they attacking.The players obviously are an attacking team and I’m not sure why the coach wants them to play so defensively, is he scared to lose?”

    Your friend obviously knows about sports or some other similar pastime and it looked the same to me.

    But was it the coach? Why was Ox so low and narrow that Alexis had to motion angrily to him for the first 30 minutes? Why did the CM duo shrink down? How did they offer the huge gap to Robben for the opener – surely it couldn’t have been a practice drill so well executed… ;-/

  24. Well we are the nigel farage of Europe. A Fukin laughing stock. The bayern players were all taking the piss out of us, did it matter. No. Not with our set up. You can take the piss all you want, Wenger won’t rile up our team. The lack of fight and passion in these last few games is wholeheartedly depressing.

  25. FinnishHit,

    Sorry, but it is the manager. Since 2006 the squad has changed many times, but the result has always been the same..never fully living up to expactations from either the club or the fans. the lack of struture is the main issue. There is no defensive structure, no attacking struckure and no team structure. When you combine that with AW known tactical shortcommings its not a good situation. And that is all on AW.

    The first thing a manager has to understand is his own shortcommings and then hire assistants to “hide”/help with those shortcommings, but AW has failed in that. Especially on the defensive side of things. In the spring of 2006 Keown took Cygan and Stepanovs and made them almost impenetrable, but he was never retained after the summer. I have read that Keown coached up a man marking defence, but AW wanted a zone marking defence. Now was that the reason he wasnt kept aboard in the coaching team I dont know, but it was a huge mistake not to keep him.

    I think this squad is plenty good to compete with a different manager. It takes discipline, accountability and tight tactical setups. AW offers none of the above

  26. Bill,

    I have never been AW Forever. I just always will question Who Else, and Why, and When, and would it be better for Arsenal.

    For me it’s not only about the Arsenal. It’s about Brexit and Trump and the Finnish “jytky” parliamentary election result in 2011, and the ISIS “warriors” and Breivik. Piers pee-pee Morgan. Mankind as a mass brain is getting more impatient than ever. I am sceptical about change for change’s sake.

    Is that being conservative? Sometimes when people try to figure me out politically, I’ve said I’m a concernative. That’s where I still stand regarding the Arsenal.

  27. My allegiance is and WILL ALWAYS BE WITH ARSENAL, no man, player or manager is above the club or sacking.

    People want Sanchez and Ozil to lower their demands or leave, 8m….

  28. The biggest frustration was watching Arsene sit on the bench the whole of the 2nd half, no fire no being pissed off.

    Fuck I said I was off and I have never been part of the Wenger Out brigade or any of them, I care solely about Arsenal, we won before Arsene and we will win after Arsene.

  29. the best thing for AFC after tonight is a new manger. the best thing for the wenger supporters is to keep loyal because they don’t want to be seen to be turn coats , so keep loyal and keep Wenger until Wenger decides to leave. that’s the best thing for Wenger and his supporters its not the best thing for AFC. has what all Wenger has done for afc made him become more important than the club? Is this what we are saying, its what his army of fundamentalists are saying. scared shitless , just like the players. the whole club from top to half the bottom of its fans are scared.

  30. Raven,

    Raven, I believe your opinion is as worthy as anyone of ours, so you are as right as I am, as we all not-in-the-inside are.

    The disciplined way of playing a game is one big alternative way of approaching sports and other activities to gain success or “wins”.

    My personal view is one of enjoyment and entertainment, meaning I believe that people want to pay for what they like/love to see, not just for the basic desire of winning. So in the long run – as I see it – it’s better evolutionally to secure a future by being liked, loved and adored.

    Short-term success on the other hand is easy. You can bully, or buy your way in.

  31. Le Coq completed 6 passes the whole match. How does a FUCKING pivot complete only SIX FUCKING PASSES, THEY ARE LITERALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYTHING!!!!!!!

  32. The BBC conclusion is not far from how I saw it:

    “Let’s not take anything away from Bayern Munich. That was a stunning second-half performance by Carlo Ancelotti’s side that few sides would have been able to cope with.

    The manner of Arsenal’s collapse, and the lack of fight after they fell behind, was disappointing though.”

  33. FinnishHit,

    I think you equal disciplined with boring and that is not at all what I am saying. Often a team that is disciplined and all have the same mindset is much more fun to watch than a team without structure at all.
    Another plus with discipline is that the sum of the parts are often greater than the individual parts, while in a structureless system its often the opposite. Grahams teams were notorious for being very disciplined and they have a rep of being boring boring Arsenal, but the fact is that Grahams teams were very entertaining and it wasnt untill his last 2 seasons it became boring. They had several 80+ goal scoring seasons which is 2+ goals a game and thats all you can really ask from a team

  34. YW,

    ““disappointing” isn’t a word I’d use. “Pathetic” is a start…”

    Well that was the Beeb; blogsites need clicks and surely you’ll find something more functional before the Finnish line in the morning… 🙂

    A sad day for the Arsenasphere anyway.

  35. Raven,

    Very good arguments, but I think you we would need more people understanding the game deeper to appreciate the discipline. Football as a world sport is beyond that stage now, because eyeballs are money. Unless you get a sugardaddy.

  36. add it to the list of excuses his loyal band of merry men will use to absolve him of any blame spy. add it to injuries, refs, rain, money, oil, luck, russians, shieks, players, fans, blogs, media…

  37. FinnishHit,

    I think thats more the excuse used for not changing anything in fear of what might come next. I am not putting you in with that lot, but dont buy that premise either.
    A manager like Felix magath wouldnt get anything done in todays football, cause he and the managers like him had absolutely no humanity in them, but I am talking about managers like Conte whom the players clearly like eventhough he is demanding and disciplined.
    Arsenal needs to find one with a similar skillset to become relevant again

  38. Finish.

    Tell me, what’s so entertaining about going out of Europe every year in the first leg? we cant even take it to two legs. we are a laughing stock in Europe now, to the point that when Bayern drew us all their players were saying they can’t wait to see who they get in the next round! Id rather and so would every other fan including the wengeratti have a team full of passion and fighters . rather than a bunch of players told to go and have a monotone kick about. we would all rather see a team strive to do something and carry out well thought and fought out plans. rather than a team who win when the conditions are right.

  39. Everyone is taking the piss:

    Bayern’s English Twitter account posted two pictures of the scoreboards from each 5-1 victory, with the message: “Same again next year? #UCL #FCBARS 5-1”.

    The only ones who don’t seem to get it are Stan and his geriatric band of wise monkeys.

  40. Now the laughing stock of Europe – Oliver Kahn tweeted that “he’d never seen a team as bad as Arsenal at the Allianz Arena” as well as perennial also-rans in the premiership

    Perhaps the club will wait for our resounding victory against Sutton to announce Wenger’s new deal.

  41. am an African and I always believe that African leaders are the only goats allegic to resignation despite being terrible, the simple truth is Wenger is a selfish bastard….if he signs a new contract, any arsenal fan that buys an arsenal ticket should be shot in the head….seriously speaking, how I wish arsenal have an owner like Abramovich

  42. Seriously speaking, i don’t understand how this man called ARSENE would squeeze in IWOBI and OZIL in an away tie at the ALLIANZ ARENA.
    Before this decision i thought this man was tactically clueless, now I believe he is mentally retarded, because only a mad man would make such a decision in such a situation.
    The players don’t even believe in him anymore, there is positional naivete from top to bottom.
    I love this team and want it to do well, but until arsene leaves, i would only stand aside and watch, thats how emotionally drained i am

  43. I just watched extended highlights, I’m sure watching the whole game will be a far worse experience.

    So Gabriel comes to Arsenal as above decent defender and now he looked like he was lost in a jungle, why? This is also a managerial problem, I don’t think Gabriel was prepared properly for the possibility of playing.

    I’m certainly not blaming Gabriel, but the team as a whole failed to fight for the ball or close them down at all. Bayern were free to toy with us in the 2nd half.

    I’m not sure what they do in training exactly and how they’re mentally preparing for games like this? There’s something inherently wrong with this squad including the Coaching staff/Manager.
    ====

    Open Letter To Mr. Wenger….

    Please Sir, you’ve been very loyal to the Club and to the Players, maybe to your philosophy as well, It’s the time to be loyal to the fans and Let It Be at the end of the season.

    It is time to deliver the club and the team to the next person – who ever that may be – to take Arsenal hopefully higher than this.

    Thank you for all you have done, we do appreciate it.

    ======

  44. Orson Kaert,

    Unfortunately so. The next phase is the gleeful reporting of the result with extended focus on Wenger being past it. This will be followed by the talk shows which will all give their view on what is wrong with the main theme being that Wenger is past it.

    Rinse and repeat.

    Just shows how thick-skinned our owners are and who much they are focused on revenue. At other clubs I would imagine there being some serious discussions over such result (and the frequency of such results). For the Arsenal hierarchy it seems the expectation is that we get as far as the knock out phase with anything else being a bonus.

    Surely at some point these results hurt the brand? How do you attract new supporters when they see that kind of demolition on the pitch? Football clubs don’t lose fans, but they do want to appeal to the next generation of supporters and I can’t imagine any youngster wanting to support Arsenal these days. We are not even putting in the performances that would attract those who like to see good football.

  45. Boycott the rest of the season, it’s what they all deserve. The players, the manager, the board the lot of them. Utter useless.

  46. Fuck finishing 4th. I can’t do the embarrassing yearly beatings anymore. And come on Sutton. These players don’t deserve nothing. I’ve Fukin had it with them all. They can all fuck off.

  47. Time to check the odds on 3-0 in the second leg. Exactly the kind of ridiculous result we would get. Then we could listen to our great leader talk about the mental strength of the team.

  48. Only 33/1, that’s disappointing. I think the bookies are getting wise to Arsenal almost, but not quite doing it.

  49. Morning.

    I’m on holiday in sunny Cornwall. Spent last night eating and drinking fine wine after a long hike along some sun kissed shores.

    Just about to eat breakfast overlooking a beautiful estuary.

    Anything happening in the world of Arsenal?

  50. Its official, the players were “mentally very jaded” after Koscielny went off. Before that we controlled them quite well.

    Does Wenger believe what he says?

  51. Orson Kaert,

    Unfortunately not. Most the seats are already paid for and the tourists would take up the rest if they were on general sale. It seems likely that the second leg will be a good game for the neutral one way or the other.

  52. How about 4-1 in the second leg? Leading 4-0 with Bayern nicking a goal in the 89th minute? Odd of 50/1 on a 4-1 score. We wouldn’t get that close though, we usually do well when we are chasing an impossible target but never really look like we will do it.

  53. Orson Kaert,

    Mornin’ Orse
    I bought some marmalade the other day in Sainsbury’s……..I went to pick up the Tiptree one…….then changed my mind in your honour.
    I went for Frank Coopers special reserve muscovado …….it’s the dogs bollocks.
    I’ve just read every comment and I’m off for coffee and toast-with the aforementioned.
    Hopefully some nice person on the radio will cheer me up with news that Wenger has stepped down.

  54. Wenger’s comments post match, that are the lead article on dotcom are scandalous.

    He’s either laughing on the inside that he’s fooled some of the people all of the time, or he’s actually becoming mentally unhinged.

    I would buy that he’s buying his own BS, but somewhere along that road, you’d have to accept that he’s deluding himself. A step away from being cuckoo?

  55. Jonnygunner,

    They had the Vintage on offer a few weeks ago, so I picked up six jars with a best before date of Dec. 2017. No chance of it lasting as long as that.

    Enjoy!

Comments are closed.